Virtual Russell H. Perry Free Enterprise Award Celebration Honors C.T. “Sparkey” & Merrie Beckham

RHP Beckhams

This year, DBU hosted its 33rd annual Russell H. Perry Free Enterprise Award Celebration virtually on the DBU website and on Facebook Live, partnering with WFAA Dallas and Shelly Slater Strategies to honor Dallas real estate investors C.T. “Sparkey” & Merrie Beckham.

This special annual event, whose purpose is to raise needed funds for student scholarships, began in 1988. Typically held every year at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas as a gala dinner, and honoring the life and legacy of Dallas entrepreneur and friend to DBU Russell H. Perry, the award ceremony celebrates individuals whose lives are testimonies of excellence in business leadership while demonstrating a spirit of generosity and service to the community.  

Chief Meteorologist and DBU Trustee Pete Delkus served as the emcee for this year’s virtual event. Delkus is a proud father of a DBU student and a wonderful supporter of the University’s mission to transform lives.

Other personalities featured in the broadcast included Pastor Bryan Carter of Concord Church, DBU Chancellor Dr. Gary Cook, and Dr. Jim Denison, as well as several of DBU’s community and ministry partners – Mercy Street Dallas, Sky Ranch Christian camps, and Brother Bill’s Helping Hand. 

Current students and alumni, including President Dr. Adam C. Wright, shared testimonials of how receiving scholarships provided them with the needed financial help to pursue God’s calling on their lives.

“Who would have thought as an 18-year old kid driving up on University Hill that one day the tap that I would get on my shoulder would be serving as University President,” Dr. Wright stated, reflecting back on this first day on campus as an undergraduate student. “I can only begin to imagine what God has in store for the lives of our students. When I think about DBU, I think about the fact that eternity is shaped by what happens on University Hill.”

Past Russell Perry Award recipients featured during the evening spoke on behalf of DBU’s leadership in transformative education, including Boone Powell, Jr., Gretchen Minyard Williams, Ross Perot, Jr., Raymond Harris, and Drs. Ken and Millie Cooper.

In addition, family and friends of this year’s recipients shared their fondest memories of Sparkey’s and Merrie’s impact on their lives and the love and joy they have spread to countless others.

A former Air Force First Lieutenant, Sparkey moved with his wife, Merrie, and their four young children to Dallas in 1963, creating real estate and development opportunities that reached across the state of Texas and beyond.  As an active real estate investor and visionary development professional, he takes great pleasure in mentoring and supporting others with their education and businesses.

The Beckhams have also contributed extensively to the Baptist community and beyond and have held many leadership positions. Sparkey has been active as a trustee on many boards simultaneously over the years, including Baylor University, Baylor University Medical Center, and Baylor Heart & Vascular Hospital. He has also served as Chairman of the Board for both Baylor Healthcare System and Baylor University Medical Center, and as a member of the Dallas Rotary Club with perfect attendance for 50 years!

Merrie is also incredibly involved in the community, helping to establish one of the first Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) programs in the state of Texas. Merrie’s ministry to young mothers reaches well past the walls of Park Cities Baptist Church, as she has been recognized for her service to others by several civic and educational institutions.

For the past 35 years, the Beckhams have provided generous support to the mission of DBU in preparing Christian servant leaders.

“There is no telling the great things that are coming out with the students at DBU,” Merrie shared. “It is great to dream about, and pray for, and love and support. I don’t see DBU just for Texas or the United States. I see it having a big place in the world.”

“The Lord has done wonderful things,” echoed Sparky, “and we are glad to be a part of it. DBU is a treasure that we need to honor and protect and pray for.”

“DBU is so thankful for friends like the Beckhams,” expressed Dr. Adam Wright. “Their generous support of DBU means so much, and they are an outstanding example to our students of Christian servant leadership. It was our privilege to honor them with this year’s 2020 Russell H. Perry Award.”

Written by Dr. Michael Whiting

Dr. Michael Whiting is the Director of Written Content in University Communications at Dallas Baptist University.